The standoff between the Philadelphia 76ers and Ben Simmons draws to a close after the wantaway forward rejoined team practices. The reactions of his teammates so far have been encouraging, and the tone is business as usual.
Ben Simmons joins Sixers' practices
Simmons joined the team after clearing health protocols, and coach Doc Rivers joked that he had to reintroduce Ben to everyone. Everyone thinks there would be awkwardness in the locker room after what happened in the past months with franchise player Joel Embiid airing his frustrations on the situations publicly and Rivers and the management not giving in to trade requests of the Simmons camp. However, for Tobias Harris, it looks like it's business as usual for the All-Star forward and his teammates, as reported by Sixers writer for The Athletic Rich Hofmann.
I didn't ask (Ben Simmons why he came back). We're grown men here. This is not seventh or eighth grade.We got an opening to our season coming up. Truth be told, that's honestly where our focus is. We're grown men here. This is not middle school, seventh grade, eighth grade, 'Oh, you did this to me, you did this!' Nah, as soon as we step on that floor, it's just basketball and honestly thať's the way it should be. We're here for one thing, that's to be the best team we can be and compete, get better as a group. So all the energy and this or that, the vibe was what it was. Was it perfect? No. But we're here to do a job and that's to win basketball games. So, put our big boy pants on the floor and we get on the floor and do what we do.
The team would have preferred not to have that distraction in the offseason, but things happened, and now they must make the most of whatever little is left in the offseason. It's borderline unfair to other players in the Sixers roster but welcoming Simmons back is the best option for everyone.
Matisse Thybulle, meanwhile, is more concerned about his own than thinking about Simmons, while Furkan Korkmaz admits missing his teammate.
How should Sixers move forward?
With Simmons' return to the lineup, the Sixers are trying to keep things in the locker room. Whether or not there is a gag order for players not to speak up on the matter or to keep things in a professional way, the team is doing the right thing. However, the fans' reaction will ultimately tell it what it is.
It's no secret that the fans have grown frustrated and disappointed with Simmons. As Kevin Hart noted, fans of Sixers are some of the most unforgiving of all. Doc Rivers can change all of that if he can flip the hate with wins and success. Simmons also needs to win some of that trust and love back. If he still wants to get traded, the best thing is to put everything behind, help the Sixers win, get his trade value up and show commitment to whichever team is interested in signing him. Philadelphia has his contract, so if the campaign proves to be successful this season, the Sixers would likely look for good assets or decide to keep him in the long run.
Availability is the best ability, but commitment remains a top responsibility. How far can Simmons show he is all in this season after the polarizing comments from some of his teammates? As far as Harris is concerned, all the players in their locker room are grown men. Stepping aside personal ego for the larger good is a sign of maturity and trait of championship teams.